Yesterday I explained that I would continue with the Compact and blogging about it into 2010, with some caveats. Today I’ll answer this question from a reader: “Is there anything you plan on purchasing new in January? Something you’ve realized that you can’t find used, or just really have been wanting to splurge on?”
Much to my surprise, there’s nothing in particular that I’ve been waiting or planning to buy. But there are things that I know will present a challenge. My biggest concern with doing this project long-term is technology. I always use a computer and cell phone as long as possible, and I’ve even bought a refurbished laptop two or three times (I think all my laptops have been refurbished), but I’m not about to stop buying them entirely. And I have a feeling I’m going to want an iphone at some point, when the monthly service fees drop significantly. Since I’m not going to become a Luddite just because I’m a Compacter, I think the key will be to use items as long as possible and to dispose of them properly. So far I’ve always sold my old computers and returned used cell phones for recycling and I’m considering donating my old laptop.
Another thing that might not be easy to find used is personal items like sheets and towels. But when I do need those things, I’ll look to other Compacters and my readers for suggestions. And I know there will be compromises, like if I absolutely need something and can’t find it used. In that case I’ll try to buy green and local. But I’ve also learned the value of borrowing or doing without. Those are underrated options. I’ve never owned a food processor and we have no room for one, but I still cook and bake a fair amount and borrow a friend’s about once a year.
I am still “looking out for” a ceramic pot that sits out on the counter for food scraps on their way to the compost bin. I want it to look nice in our kitchen and haven’t found anything in the thrift stores. That is something I may end up buying if I don’t find one soon. And one other thing I really need is a digital camera. The one I’ve been using to take photos for this blog is really old and very temperamental and I spend way too much time coaxing it to behave. I am going to try to buy one used, perhaps on ebay. Let me know if you have any ideas about that.
And one other thing that came up recently…
A good friend is having a baby girl and the shower is in January. Oh, how I would love to go out and buy some beautiful baby clothes. Just yesterday I looked at an online children’s clothing catalog and saw the most adorable little white fuzzy baby coat with a hood and lamb’s ears. The company is all organic cotton and made in the USA, so I’m considering making an exception. But I would also really love to give them some of our favorite children’s books, and I can probably find those used in good condition. What do you think, readers? I’ve done great so far with gifts, but do you have any ideas for baby gifts? I don’t knit or quilt, and I want to give them something really nice. If you have any suggestions for non-consumer baby gifts, please leave them in the Comments section.
It's very possible to get nice baby things without buying new. I have a friend who is very Compact-y: when she had a baby recently I went to a thrift store and found half a dozen adorable, gender-neutral outfits – she loved them AND appreciated that they were used. Your friend will definitely appreciate getting something that you loved as a child, whether used or new (and I really love used books, especially ones with neat personal inscriptions that you can add yours to).
Also keep in mind that new babies often receive LOTS of THINGS – so one significant item may be better than a bunch of small things, especially if you decide to buy new. The coat sounds adorable, by the way!
Thanks for the suggestions. I should try the "baby thrift store" for sure. And I love the idea of giving them something of mine that I loved as a child- maybe I'll buy books and add a few of my favorites.
I'm with Anonymous, babies go through lots of pj's in a single day, and you can find them in wonderful condition in thrift stores as well as cuddly stuffed animals and toys or other baby items that your friend might need. I would also consider providing service vouchers for things you would enjoy doing for your friend while she is pregnant or once the baby is born. Toenail maintenance is very hard to perform with a big belly for example. Home cooked, frozen and easily reheatable meals (think lasagna) are very, very appreciated by new moms and dads. No cabbage family veggies, or legumes though if the mommy is planning on nursing because those foods are gas forming and can make the baby colicky.
Donna Freedman says
Offer to babysit. The new parents may not take you up on it right away, but they will be very happy.
A family for whom I babysit just had a third child. I gave a gift certificate good for five hours of my time, whether it's babysitting or light housekeeping.
Cute baby clothes are hard to resist–but honestly, so many people gave us clothes at my baby showers that we started wishing they hadn't! What we really needed were cloth diapers, wipes, and the like. Books are a good call, too–as are babysitting offers!
As a new mother, I would have loved someone to bring me a lunch or a dinner and take time to sit and chat with me for a bit. All of the material things I received I was incredibly grateful for, but I remember most those moments that my friends and family took to make my life a little easier.
I can understand not wanting to give a used gift at a shower, however, as an aside to your gift the used baby clothes will be much appreciated, believe you me. Babies go through several outfits a day, sleepers being a huge one because they spit up, the diaper leaks, etc. If you find a source for cute gently used baby clothes, stock up. Also, I always like organic soft toys, or educational toys. There are stuffed veggie or food toys which are stinking cute. These could be made as well!
My Nifty Thrifty Life says
Being a seasoned mom of three kids; 20, 18 & 17, I made a decision long ago, that if I give baby clothes, they are always a size medium. Most people give newborn/small, and they outgrow them quickly. I also love the book idea. And fully agree with the meal/time suggestions. Esp. if it's after the initial "newness" wears off. Wait til all the visitors stop coming by, and then send a meal & stop for a visit. Also, the new mom may like an outing to a used baby store, to shop for missing items….. hope it helps!
There's a great second hand kids clothing store in Silver Lake on Sunset called Grow Kid Grow. They have great stuff.
I love all your ideas- thanks so much!
I am definitely going to check the children's thrift stores, and buy some of our favorite books (used, like new) and also a babysitting certificate. Plus I will be mindful to stop by with a homecooked meal as often as possible.
Thanks so much!! I know my friends and relatives appreciate the gifts I've come up with, but I guess I'm intimidated by the whole "shower" thing- it's hard not to feel peer pressure at those. Especially when they're opening the gifts at the shower, which most people seem to enjoy.
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